What does loving God look like? Vol 76
Kathy and I lead a community group at church. It’s a pretty awesome thing. Every Wednesday evening we gather with 11 people who love God and have come to love each other deeply. It’s like an extended family really. Normally our discussions focus on gleaning additional insight from our senior pastor’s last talk…trying to bring it all the down to personal application. But some nights like this past Wednesday…we talked a little more “off the cuff.” The discussion went from Calvinism vs. Arminianism to “what does it look like to love God?” The latter was of more interest to me…well…because I brought it up.
We’ve all tried to do something new. It can be downright clumsy at first. I remember learning how to play tennis. I didn’t hold the racket right and every ball I hit either sailed over the fence or into the net. It was pretty frustrating for quite a while. But then I got some pointers from someone who really knew how to play…and my game improved. Slowly at first…but then dramatically.
I’m not saying in any way that learning to love God is anything like playing tennis…but I am saying that I think we might need to learn to love Him.
I’ve been a believer for nearly 45 years. Given the fact that we all come at love from a different place…loving God for me has been a mix of awe, guilt, despair, desperation, jealousy, emotion, questions, faith, knowledge, indifference…in no particular order. I am always aware of His presence, and what I know about God normally trumps how I feel about God. And that is where I get stuck.
That is also where I can get judgmental.
We get our first ideas about what love looks like from our parents. As young kids we observe their interaction with each other and their interaction with us. I think that we infer love if there is no obvious disconnect, like in abusive situations. Most of us may not remember our parents telling us they love us…but they “showed” us..by taking care of us, meeting our needs, physical touch, soothing words, etc. As we get older those queues become more significant and more telling. When voices are raised or we are disciplined, and the “I love you” follows pain…. whether the pain is emotional or physical, we have to work that out. Sometimes that takes a while… and some adults have never worked that out from childhood.
Following childhood and from adolescence into adulthood some of us get into relationships and maybe get married. And we find that love has new meaning…and new dangers.
I did not come to Christ at 15 because I understood His great love for me. I understood what he did for me on the cross and that I wouldn’t have to pay the debt for my own sin and wind up in hell. (Maybe you really understood the love part…) I don’t know. But I no longer struggle with the fact that God loved me as much as he did (and still does.)
What I struggle with these days is my response back to him. What is that supposed to look like…to feel like. Is there a right or wrong way to love God.
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”
That right there is a big commitment. No room for holding back. Some would say that this verse simply means to love God with everything you’ve got and they site 2Kings 23:25 and King Josiah as an example. Take a minute and look it up.
So far I don’t have any issue. I’m not saying that you could look at my life and tell that I was loving God that way…I just mean that I get it in a cerebral sense. And that it all makes sense. He made me. He purchased me. He’s the potter, I’m the clay…all that. I get it.
But in any good relationship, love flows back and forth. Love can be seen and felt and touched. There is an emotional component that we witness in couples holding hands, kissing, sitting by the bed of a loved one, praying fervently. There is an action associated with love that has that emotional component.
And in our relationship with God? Sunday mornings I see people weeping, holding up their hands, praising God in voice and song. I look at them and wonder if something is missing in me. I’m often moved to tears during worship or stand in stunned silence in the realization of what it means to serve a God so far beyond comprehension who humbled himself to save me…an undeserving, wretched sinner. I am eternally grateful. I’ve never raised my hands in a service in my life…and am not likely to…never spoken in tongues and don’t believe it’s for us today
But I’m convinced that I don’t have to lift my hands or jump a pew. Trying to love God according to the first and greatest commandment is my life purpose…and yours if you know Christ as savior.
So maybe the question I’m asking today is how do I enjoy God. That’s a fair question if the chief end of man is to Glorify God and enjoy Him forever….right? I wish I had an answer. I’ve found that I enjoy what He has made, what he provides, how he answers prayer, how he forgives again and again … He said if we seek him with all our hearts we will find him…then what?
I’m trying to think of enjoying one of my closest friends and what that means to me right now…today. It means I enjoy their company, their confidence, their conversation, their compassion, (I’m running out of “c” words) I made a decision at one point to invest heavily in a relationship with them. I do enjoy them…thoroughly. I don’t always tell them…it’s kind of inferred. Maybe I should tell my buddies how much I enjoy them…and maybe I should wear a red nose too. You can take this to extremes.
I do tell God I love him…often. But it doesn’t elicit the same response as when I tell my kids or my wife. It is love on a higher plane. it is love realized from knowledge…from walking with God. It’s strange to say but I do sense the love of God from God. But I long to love God in the way I know relationship. That’s pretty selfish right? I know it is…but then again…that’s all I know how to do right now…today…here in this earth suit. But I’m working on it…Loving and Enjoying God for who He is not just what He’s done. Come join me!